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Created by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 26 of May, 2009 11:35 PDT
Last post Mon 15 of Dec., 2014 04:09 PST
(372 Posts | 1402280 Visits | Activity=2.00)
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Nonsense Podcast gives a nod to The Escapist

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 03 of Sept., 2009 06:05 PDT
Nonsense Podcast is one of my favorite critical thinking podcasts, and they've just released episode 9, which features a short bit on the Utah hammer attack, and mentions a certain roleplaying advocacy site in the process.

Give it a listen - not because they plug the site, but because critical thinking is good for you! - nonsensepodcast.com

(Fun fact: Andrew, who reports on the story in this episode, starred as Pathos Feralwolf in my 25th anniversary tribute to the Dark Dungeons comic tract!)

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Where was your first game of D&D?

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 03 of Sept., 2009 05:32 PDT
Yesterday, the famous (and infamous) Ed Healy posted a picture of the house where he played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. I liked the idea so much, I decided to steal it, and maybe even tell some of the story behind it.

I love "how I started gaming" stories - so much so, that I included it as one of the questions for the Tell Me About Your Character interviews. I know I've told mine on the site more than once, but what's one more time? So here goes:

I didn't live in a very good neighborhood as a kid, so in the late 70s and early 80s I would spend part of my summers with my sister and her family in Newark, Delaware, about an hour's drive from my home in Dover.

It was a very good confidence-building experience for me, a kid from a bad neighborhood who was also having problems with getting acceptance at school. I met a lot of kids around my age who didn't have any preconceptions about me, and that helped me make a lot of new friends.

Two of those friends were twin boys, Joey and Smokey (and to this day I'm not sure if 'Smokey' was a nickname or actually on his birth certificate). One summer day in 1981, while talking with both of them, I found out that they played Dungeons & Dragons

Instantly, I started to nag them to teach me how to play. I had heard so many bad things about the game - and even been told by a teacher to avoid it at all costs, because it was so 'dangerous' - that I had to find out for myself what was so terrible about it.

Eventually, they gave in, and one of the twins DMed a game for me, his brother, and another friend of ours named Debbie, on the front steps of their house on Scottfield Drive.

The house is still there, and looks a lot like it did back in 1981:



(Yes, you heard me correctly - my first game of D&D was played in a group with a girl in it. And now that I think of it, almost all of my gaming groups have had at least one female in them. So much for stereotypes!)

Of course, I was hooked instantly. Later that summer, when I returned for another visit, I rode my bike to the nearby shopping center, went into the little hobby shop on the inside corner, and spent my lawnmowing money on a copy of the purple box, Erol Otus cover Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set.

(The shopping center is still there, but the hobby store closed a long time ago, and I can't for the life of me remember the name of it.)



And that's how and where it happened, nearly thirty years ago.

So, what's your story? Where did you play your first game of D&D, or any other RPG? (Bonus points if you include a picture!)

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A Practical Guide to the Practical Guides

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 02 of Sept., 2009 05:00 PDT
At the Young Person's Adventure League, Dr. Awkward has posted his review of a series of Mirrorstone lorebooks, along with some tips on using them in your adventures. He calls it A Practical Guide to the Practical Guides. Check it out!

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LARPing in Boulder

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sun 30 of Aug., 2009 07:30 PDT
The Boulder Daily Camera just published a great piece on the Denver-Boulder International Fantasy Gaming Society, one of the longest-running LARP groups (if not the longest):
Boulder County's scene makes "Roles Models" look weak. The Denver-Boulder International Fantasy Gaming Society organizes live-action events as often as every other weekend May through September. The society began in 1981, as one of the first live-action groups in the world — if not the very first.

The local society boasts about 60 "very active" participants, plus an additional 100 to 200 people who have been involved over the past 30 years, according to Ray Appling, of Longmont, who serves on the international board of directors, among four other titles.

There's a fairly good description of how LARP works here, and a nice representation of the people who play:
In their other life — the realm beyond role-playing in the field — one of the participants is the VP for the Robinson Brick Company. Other players are grandparents, triathletes, doctors, lawyers, mortgage brokers, professors and business-owners, not to mention actors, video gamers and "Dungeons and Dragon"-ites.

Read the full article here: [article | archive]

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School's in!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 28 of Aug., 2009 20:48 PDT
It's that time of year again! Are you organizing any RPG clubs and/or running any RPGs at your school or library? If so, contact me! I'm always looking for tips, suggestions, reviews, play session reports, and even lesson plans for Reading Writing & Roleplaying and Terra Libris!+

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An anniversary of an urban legend

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Mon 24 of Aug., 2009 20:59 PDT
Thirty years ago this month, James Dallas Egbert III disappeared from his college campus at Michigan State University, and hid in the steam tunnels beneath the campus to end his troubled life. William Dear, a private investigator hired by Egbert's uncle, found Dungeons & Dragons materials in his room, along with a cryptic map that led him to the steam tunnels. Fearing that Egbert may have been a captive, and that any statement he made to the public could endanger the young man's life, Dear made a statement about Dungeons & Dragons instead.

And that's how an urban legend was born.

To avoid causing embarrassment and humiliation to the Egbert family over Dallas' lifestyle, Dear let his story stand for the next five years, long enough for it to do a lot of damage, before coming clean in his book The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III. In that time, a moral panic began to grow over Dungeons & Dragons - suicides, homicides, and other crimes were linked to the game whenever a perpetrator (or even a victim) was believed to be a roleplayer, schools and libraries banned it from the premises, and a group of concerned (and terribly misguided) parents formed an anti-D&D group that "educated" law enforcement about the dangers of the game and attempted to petition the Surgeon General to require suicide warning labels on the covers of the rulebooks.

And it all began with one white lie told to protect a family from public shame.

I had completely overlooked the anniversary until I saw this article at Geeksix, which gives a pretty good recap of the story that covers all of the major details. You can also read my comments on the story and a quote from The Dungeon Master here.

(Special thanks to the utterly awesome Jess Hartley for sharing the Geeksix article.)

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Back to school at Gaming Brouhaha

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Sun 23 of Aug., 2009 10:58 PDT
Over at Gaming Brouhaha, MJ Harnish is getting ready for a new school year, and considering what new games to run for the kids at their gaming club. I really like his choices (especially the fact that he mentions one RPG I've never heard of - The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries), and his discussion on leaning towards more character-driven RPGs when running games for kids.

He promises to post updates on how the club is going, including details of their first session of InSpectres. If you're involved in a school gaming club, or are considering starting one, don't miss it!

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New book on roleplayers - "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks"

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 21 of Aug., 2009 12:58 PDT
I just had a Google Alert hit my inbox about a new book on roleplaying culture - Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks by Ethan Gilsdorf. Here's a brief description:

In an enthralling blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir, former role-player Ethan Gilsdorf crisscrosses America, the world, and other worlds—from Boston to California, New Zealand to France, Planet Earth to the realm of Aggramar. He asks gaming and fantasy geeks how they balance their escapist urges with the kingdom of adulthood. He seeks out those who dream of elves, long swords, and heroic deeds. He hangs out with Harry Potter tribute bands. He goes to fan conventions. He battles online goblins, trolls, and sorcerers. He camps with medieval reenactors. He becomes Ethor, Ethorian, and Ethor-An3. What he discovers is funny, poignant, and enlightening.


I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

The author is hosting a reading and booksigning at Riverrun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where attendees who dress as their favorite character get a special prize. Sounds like a lot of fun all around!

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Penny Arcade covers the Utah D&D hammer attack

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Fri 21 of Aug., 2009 09:41 PDT
Can you think of any reason why your friend might have struck you repeatedly with a hammer?

(Be sure to read the 'News' for this strip, too.)

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Happy Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 20 of Aug., 2009 11:49 PDT
Today is the 129th birthday of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, a horror author from the pulp era whose classic stories include The Call of Cthulhu, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and At the Mountains of Madness. Most of his stories contained themes of bleak, helpless horror, inflicted by vast interstellar beings who viewed humanity as little more than insects, or even less.

Lovecraft lived long before the concept of role-playing games came along, but it's pretty likely that he would have enjoyed other people playing in his sandbox. After all, he did encourage a close following of aspiring writers who penned many stories based on his characters, locations, and slimy, squamous horrors.

Some time ago, I received a gift in the mail from the UK - a DVD-ROM entitled Lovecraftian Tales from the Table. It's a collection of files related to the Call of Cthulhu RPG, which is based on Lovecraft's works (and one of my personal favorites.) There are interviews with the game designers, a quickstart version of the game rules and character sheets in PDF, prop documents to print out and use for your game, and much more.

But the crowing piece of this collection are the "audio games," hours of MP3s of people playing two of the longest CoC campaigns ever published - Horror on the Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep. I haven't had a chance to listen or enjoy any of the disc yet (my antique PC doesn't have a DVD drive), but I'm really looking forward to it, and I'd love to see other RPG fans do similar projects for the games that they love.

I can't help but wonder what ol' H.P. himself would think about what has become of his creation. Hopefully, he would approve.

Happy birthday, HPL!

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Shooter who blamed D&D group gets insanity plea

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Thu 20 of Aug., 2009 06:18 PDT
A Georgia woman who shot a co-worker and blamed the act on "Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts" has been deemed mentally unfit for trial.

Carol Marie Clark also blames the death of her brother Verner on D&D gamers, but police have determined that it was a suicide.
An Emory University psychiatrist who interviewed Clark determined she exhibited symptoms of paranoia and schizophrenia. "She presents a substantial risk of imminent harm to others," one examiner wrote.

It's a sad story of someone who truly has lost touch with reality. Thankfully, her victim is expected to recover. Here's hoping that Clark can get the help that she needs.

Read the full story here: [article | archive]

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"The Evil of the Dungeon"

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 19 of Aug., 2009 18:10 PDT
Over at the excellent old-school gaming blog Grognardia (external link), James tells the story of his 6-year-old son's first attempt at refereeing, in a scenario he designed himself: The Evil of the Dungeon (external link).

These sorts of things make me very happy.

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Another RPG geek celeb: filmmaker Paul Weitz

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 19 of Aug., 2009 08:07 PDT
Speaking of movies - Paul Weitz, producer of The Golden Compass and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, director of American Pie and the upcoming Cirque du Freak movie, just confessed to being a D&D geek in two recent articles on UGO and IGN:

"Reilly, a genre fan who grew up on Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons, realized how important it was to embrace the source material." - IGN

"You know, I've worked on movies in the past that are based on books and I usually say...we're shooting the script. We're not shooting the book. But I felt like, well, I was a big Tolkein fan as a kid, and I played Dungeons and Dragons, and I know how important the screen adaptations of those were to me when I was a kid..." - UGO



(EDIT: Forgot to mention - according to his IMDB listing, he appears to be involved in an "untitled Elric saga project"!)

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Third Dungeons & Dragons movie a possibility

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Wed 19 of Aug., 2009 07:22 PDT
An article from the Sunterland Echo mentions that a third Dungeons & Dragons movie is planned, and may be filled in North East England.

I've always thought the second movie was a marked improvement over the first. Yeah, I realize that's not saying much... but maybe the level of quality will improve even more for the third film.

Or maybe I'm just being hopelessly optimistic again.

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Utah man on trial for hammer attack after D&D game

Posted by WJWalton4753 points  on Tue 18 of Aug., 2009 06:09 PDT
Zachary King is currently on trial for breaking into the home of two men and attacking them with a hammer as they slept. King returned to their home after playing Dungeons & Dragons with the two men earlier in the day, entered through an open window, and attacked both men in their beds. Both survived the attacks, and are expected to recover.

Remarkably, the coverage of the story has not tried to implicate the game for the crime. The Salt Lake Tribune [article | archive] mentions that "...a motive for the attacks may have grown from the trio playing the fantasy role-playing game...", but clarifies that one of the victims "was directing the game as Dungeon Master, and King didn't like what he was doing with King's character." It also mentions that "...King had an issue with Bryson (the other victim) for dating a girl after both said they would not date her."

Certainly, neither of these are justification for such a horrible attack. I only mention it to point out the definite lack of the old anti-gaming rhetoric, such as "Murder attempt may be connected to controversial game."

The Spectrum [article | archive] gives the same kind of coverage, but supplies a little more detail on the motive. King was jealous of one victim for his wealth and writing ability (particularly his plans to publish D&D material), and jealous of the other because he went back on his word and dated a woman that both of them were interested in.

No sensationalism, just facts. Which is the way it should have been all along.

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